Two years ago when I wrote my book, "Grief and the Psalms" I wrote this chapter right before I had my right knee replaced. Tonight as I prepare for my left knee replacement, I am reminded of how grateful I am to have this body - and this life. The musical Hamilton has a song, "turn around, how lucky we are to be alive right now..." and it's true. So tonight, I say good-bye and give thanks for Linda and this village; for all the doctors and nurses who have brought me to this place - and look forward to many long walks ahead. Thank you, God. (editor's note: where it says "right" think "left" -- `take 2.')
Psalm 130: 5-6 I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
My soul waiteth for the Lord more than my soul watches for the morning:
I say, more than they that watch for the morning. (KJV)
For 57 years my right knee and I have been inseparable. As my total knee replacement looms close on the horizon, I find myself growing very sentimental about this old joint of mine. This knee has shared all of my journeys: taking my first steps, learning to ride a bike, and kicking me through the water as I learned to swim, playing every sport that had a ball. This right knee propelled me walking across the stage to graduate from high school, college, seminary, and kneeling to be ordained. This knee stepped out when my partner, Linda and I walked one another down the aisle. This knee rocked our old rocker in those early mornings when I was trying to get each of our baby boys back to sleep. This knee has been on walks with most everyone I’ve loved, has brought me a hundred times or more on Saturday mornings to Evans restaurant and to Booth 25, and has made her way on long walks listening to baseball games on the radio, or seeking solitude and listening for God.
Total knee replacement in a few weeks. “Before the morning watch I pray…” Change is surely coming, and as one who looks and hopes for the dawn of something better, I am especially mindful these days. This is what I’ve known for so long. Even with pain, I’ve come to trust this knowing to be enough. What if things don’t get better? What if the pain is the same? Or worse?
There is a restlessness in me as I watch for the morning. There’s a mixture of exhaustion and anticipation. In many ways I’ve limped these final steps and don’t know if I’m able to push through much more. The fear of not knowing is somehow gradually becoming less the focus for me.
Instead, as I wait and watch, I am almost beginning to envision what could be next. In this time of watching for the light that is surely coming, I can almost begin to imagine some of what my next steps may bring. And for this night of waiting, for this night I give thanks for this old companion. Thank you for literally bringing me here from there. Thank you for carrying me all this way. Thank you for continuing on, even through the last hobbling days.
Change is coming and I hope that the pain ceases and healing comes quickly. For all that has been, and for what is next I am leaning into God’s grace and lovingkindness.
Recreating God, I give you thanks for all in my life that supported me in the past—but no longer serves me. I need to let go of some parts of me, aspects of me, old strategies I used. I am still grateful for them, and ask for courage and your loving presence as I release them now to make room for what is surely coming next. Transform me and be with me as I learn to lean on new supports as I journey on with you. Amen.
Working as a Hospice Chaplain, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.